Party urged to seize opportunities for progress

By Somsack Pongkhao
March 17, 2011

Prior to the opening ceremony yesterday, Party delegates including former Party and Lao President Khamtay Siphandone (fourth left), Party Secretary General and President of the Lao PDR Choummaly Sayasone (fourth right) and heads of mass organisations stand for the national anthem.

Party Secretary General Choummaly Sayasone has urged all Party members to make the most of global opportunities and challenges to accelerate development and build a foundation from which Laos can shed its least developed country status by 2020.

Mr Choummaly, who is also the President of Laos, was quoting a draft political report at the opening ceremony of the Ninth Party Congress in Vientiane on Thursday, which will run until March 21.

The Party leader spoke after Party Politburo member and Prime Minister of Laos Thongsing Thammavong delivered his remarks to open the congress, which was attended by 576 delegates representing more than 191,700 Party members nationwide.

Mr Choummaly said by daring to make the most of opportunities and limiting challenges in relation to global changes, “we are confident that we will absolutely reach a new achievement in national defence and development”.

This optimism stems from Laos’ continued development over the past 35 years after national liberation under the clear-sighted leadership of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and solidarity of the Lao people.

The Party Congress is the biggest political event in Laos, the latest opening as the country enjoys political stability, security and order throughout society, facilitating development and poverty reduction among Lao people despite complex global changes.

In the coming years, Asean will become a single market and production base, allowing member nations, both old and new, to integrate their economies and address development disparities.

The Party has also set a directive for the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals and for Laos to become partially industrialised and modernised by 2015.

Mr Choummaly said that to achieve industrialisation, the appropriate steps must be taken, starting with the sectors that have the most potential.

“We give priority to the processing of agriculture and forest products and energy development, including hydropower, in parallel with forestry protection and alternative energy,” he said.

Mr Thongsing outlined the country’s development situation and expressed appreciation for the leadership role played by the Party in giving directives for the country.

“Lao people of all ethnic groups continue to strengthen their solidarity and confidence in the leadership of the Party, while enjoying more freedom and democratic rights,” he said.

Meanwhile, Party Politburo member and Standing Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad quoted the draft national socio-economic development plan for 2011-2015.

He said that in the past five years, the Lao economy grew by an average of 7.9 percent annually with income per capita of 8.7 million kip (US$1,069) for the fiscal year 2009-10.

The value of investment reached 62 trillion kip for 2006-10, double the amount of the preceding five years. Family poverty levels fell from 27.7 percent in the 2002-2003 fiscal year to 20.4 percent in 2009-2010.

Tourist arrivals over the past five years have increased by 44.4 percent, or about 1.76 million people per year, compared to the preceding five-year period.

The Party is outlining goals to be achieved in the next five years, including economic growth of at least 8 percent per year and annual per capita income of US$1,700.

The goals for 2015 also include rice production of 4.2 million tonnes, tourist arrivals of 2.8 million, family poverty levels of less than 10 percent and illiteracy elimination among ethnic people aged 15-24 years reaching 99 percent.

The Ninth Party Congress will proceed under the themes ‘Enhancing the cohesive solidarity of the Lao nation and unity within the Party; upholding the leadership role and capacity of the Party; devising a breakthrough approach for the implementation of the renovation policy; creating a solid basis for lifting the nation from underdevelopment by 2020; and advancing further towards the destination of socialism’.

Yesterday afternoon Party representatives from ministries and provinces presented the key achievements in their area of responsibility. Today, more representatives will present the highlights of their work.

The election of a new Executive Committee of the Party Central Committee will take place on March 20, but the announcement of the new Party Secretary General, Party Politburo members and Party Secretariat Committee will take place on March 21.

The Party Congress is held every five years. The last congress was held in 2006, featuring the election of 55 members of the Executive Committee of the Party Central Committee.


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